Just Write

Amy Zhang and your scraps of writing

My dear friend, Arlene Mandell, asked a question the other day that I’ve been pondering. What happens to our scraps of writing?  What can we do with our journal writing and our freewrites?

I just read “The Secret Life of a Teenage Author” by Amy Zhang in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers. Zhang’s honesty and confession led me to want to learn more about her.

Her blog, “A Story of a Dreamer,” is inspiring and delightful. The October 10 post begins, “If You Give an Author Some Chocolate …to encourage her to revise, she’ll eat it. She’ll eat it slowly because there is an art to eating chocolate bars. She’ll try to revise while holding the chocolate bar in one hand, but realize that she can’t revise without proper music.

If you let an author look for proper music, she’ll decide that her normal revising playlist simply isn’t good enough, and she will use up a good half an hour trying to develop a new one before finding the perfect one on 8track.”

Your details might be different, but you have probably been in the same situation as Zhang. You sit down to write, but one thing leads to another. You eventually get back to writing, but it’s a circuitous route.

Her September 15 post is called, Sh*t People Say to Writers.

“Last Sunday, my local newspaper wrote a story about me…and my writing…and stuff. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I used to be very, very secretive about writing. I never talked about it. So this week was WEIRD and awkward and generally hard for me, but on the bright side, I FINALLY get to write this post! I’ve always wanted to. ”

Here’s where you come in, my writing friends,  . . . you know those free writes and short-shorts you have written and don’t know what to do with?  Turn them into short stories, or combine them, as Zhang did:

“UNTITLED (we’ll just call it that for now–isn’t it easier?) actually began as two short stories–one about an abandoned imaginary friend, and one about a girl who tries to commit suicide. UNTITLED is their lovechild. I’m not sure where the ideas for the two original short stories came from, but I knew there was a connection between them and I knew I wanted to develop that connection into a full-length novel.”

Your turn: Select excerpts of your writing, turn them into a short story. I’ll suggest where you can submit your writing in future posts

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